An artist named “Foofwa”—don’t we expect the bizarre, the incomprehensible?
But here he is—a normal-looking guy--casual and relaxed in sweatsuit and gray socks, chatting with the audience while warming up…deceptive, for this is only the first of an electrifying range of characters we will meet in this fine-tuned and flowing solo performance.
There is no “backstage” here—his “Grand Entrance” will be made from the great outdoors of Mt. Tremper, through what looks like the fire door—but we’ll speak of that later…
First, we must be educated—for too many in the audience (myself included) are not that familiar with those two giants of Dance; Pina, Merce, (Michael, we know)—their quirks and characteristic styles of movement, their motives and mannerisms. Professor Foofwa to the rescue! A concise and clear history of Dance, Dance Evolution…yes, he’s a natural teacher-- what? You expected him to dance, not talk? Like I said, there’s many people in this show—all of them him.
OK, now we know their story, but there’s more—Foofwa the videographer has done a montage of the work of all three artists, so we can share his personal vision of those legends he knew so well… It’s that important to him. He’s put all this gorgeous stuff on a CD and loaded it into my brain. Good. NOW we’re ready to watch the REAL performance…
…A SINISTER POUNDING AT THE DOOR…Aynsley in a black “Edward Gorey” slip dress (I swear she was Gorey’s inspiration!) takes slow funereal steps to open it—and a mummy-wrapped figure enters… (dressed by “Coco Charnel”)
And he’s alive!!
Actually, it’s Dante Alighieri’s cousin “Dance” (rhymes with Beyonce) Alighie-ridere, a sprite who has been “dead for 688 years”, and has been re-animated…just for this show, of course, but don’t tell him. And boy, does he dance! Buoyant, as if gravity was so yesterday…
There’s a purpose to this story line—I promise—but meanwhile let’s just enjoy the dancing, stories, and…SINGING? Hold on, now—he sings, too? Like an Italian? (Foofwa’s not Italian, he’s Swiss/Brazilian) And tells jokes in a perfect Italian accent? (Umm, I’m suspending disbelief, here—and enjoying every minute!)
A journey ensues to “Hello Hell”, where Pina, Merce and Michael have just entered…where the “lost souls” are gyrating very much like the choreography of our three protagonists (imagine the sight!) Then “horrible hideous monsters” appear, generated by the not-so-pleasant quirks of Michael, Pina and Merce—we don’t actually SEE the monsters, we HEAR them—dreadful sounds for which we are instructed to close our eyes…
But even with our eyes closed it is clear that it is the vocal skill of Foofwa that is evoking these horrifying sounds (for example, the sound of Pina’s lungs going into spasm from decades of cigarettes). More amazement, when he perfectly mimics the sound of a song playing in reverse (“going back in time”, of course...)
More adventures follow in the levels of “Hello Hell”— than can be recounted here—
But the heart-stoppers are: Foofwa’s portrayal of Lucifer, complete with wings (a subtle motion of his upper body), a fearsome voice, and immense presence (he’s still in his elastic mummy-wrap bandages, but you don’t remember that…)
And a shy “abused child” confronting Michael, singing “bad”, with Michael’s dance moves and words, slowed down and tentative, the meaning completely reversed.
And the last portrayal—“Terpsichore”, making a proclamation in honor of our three…voice echoing as if in a great hall… (not amplified, it’s only Foofwa doing it again!)
So who is the real Foofwa d’Imobilite? I have my own theory…
There are some artists for whom their art is truly their self, it is in every cell. You see it in Foofwa’s smile—it flashes like an electric charge, it is pure love of life, like a puppy confronting a t-bone steak. With the buoyant spirit in his dance. his song, his every motion, he can carry us up on a wave of anti-gravity, until we feel like death cannot touch us.
One part of him can live completely in the moment. And yet there is the discipline to achieve the wondrous and magical skills we see in this performance. A deep sense of logic and mental focus created this work, however spontaneous it may seem.
Awesome, I think that’s the word.